In my past post I shared how being cut off from all forms of social media while on a business trip in China reminded me why personal branding is more about the ‘person’ and less about the ‘tools’ we use. Yet the fact remains that social media is, and always will be, an integral part of personal branding around the world. Having someone else cut you off from social media is one thing, but let’s take a lesson from Zen meditation and consciously stop, sit, breathe and develop healthier social media habits.
Off the Grid
I have been grateful for the role social media has played in my life. It has helped me to launch my business, connect with amazing thought leaders, and express my personal brand. It has become part and parcel of daily life – but perhaps too much. Time I could have spent meditating or even just enjoying the present moment has been replaced with tweets, likes, comments, +1s, pins, etc.I can’t even imagine how many times I pull my iPhone out of my pocket to check-in.
So I felt an urge, almost a calling, to bring meditation back into my daily routine. My life used to be less stressful and much more balanced when I disconnected myself for 25 minutes every morning and evening. I wanted this back. I needed this back. It was time to get off the grid, meditate for 5-days, and just stay away from anything and everything having to do with social media, blogging, and personal branding!
Those Shiny Addictive Apps
Once you check-in to a Zen Center you are instructed to put away your phone and remove yourself from technology. Time to get the basics back! The first couple days was hard as my legs and back ached. Each 25-minute meditation sitting seemed like an eternity. As hard as this was, it was even harder to resist the temptation to dig my iPhone out of my backpack and click on those shiny apps beckoning me!
As I sat on my meditation cushion, I realized just how much control social media and the web has over me and I wondered, “Am I an addict?” “Should I be sitting in a 12-step meeting rather than a Zen center?” I was off the grid, but man I wanted to jump right back in!
A Different Kind of Tweet
Over the next few days the pain in my legs lessened. My breathing became deeper and I felt a tad bit more centered. And I discovered that I could still listen to ‘tweets’, but not from the twitter-sphere. My new tweets came from the birds outside my window, the cicada in the trees, and the old floorboards in the Zen center. I could also still ‘connect’, but not on LinkedIn or Facebook. My new connection was with my inner self and the energy of my fellow mediators.
I eventually made it all 5 days without touching that iPhone, and while the ‘detox’ was hard at first I realized I could survive! Heck, I survived 40 years of my life without social media so of course I should have been able to do it for 5 short days!
Creating Healthy Habits
My desire to disappear for 5-days was to create a healthy habit of meditating again. A habit that was once crucial to my sanity. But I also discovered that I can develop a much healthier way to use social media. So, instead of reaching for my iPhone first thing in the morning I will reach for my meditation cushion and sit, breathe, and listen to tweets of real life around me.
Have you created a healthy way of using social media? Share your healthy social media habits below.
Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer” and is one of only 15 Master level Certified Personal Branding Strategists in the world. He is introducing a leading global personal branding methodology to companies and careerists in Japan and adapting it for the Japanese culture. In a culture where fitting-in is the norm, his mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. His background spans over 21 years in intercultural consulting, international outreach, and global communication coaching.